MVC Championship Game Preview: Illinois St Redbirds vs Creighton Blue Jays

Missouri Valley Conference Championship Game
#4 Illinois St Redbirds vs #2 Creighton Blue Jays
Scottrade Center – St. Louis, Missouri
Sunday, March 4, 2012, 2:00 pm Eastern, TV: CBS
Opening Line: Creighton -5
Current Line: Creighton -6
Opening Total: 142 1/2
Current Total: 141
Opening Money Line: Creighton – 215 / Illinois St +185
Current Money Line: Creighton -260 / Illinois St +220

College Football Sportsbook
Creihgton and Illinois St meet for the MVC title Sunday in St. Louis.

In conference tournaments, anything can happen. Case in point, in yesterday’s Missouri Valley semifinals, #1 seed Wichita St came in on a 9 game winning streak. The Shockers looked to be a prohibitive favorite to win the MVC tournament. They were matched-up against #4 seed Indiana St. The 20-12 Redbirds were 1 of 5 teams who finished with a conference record of 9-9. The Redbirds beat Northern Iowa 54-42 in Friday’s quarterfinals to advance to the semis. Illinois St ended up upsetting the Shockers 65-64 after Wichita St failed to make a field goal for the last 7 minutes of the game.

Fans of teams on the bubble will be rooting for Illinois St’s opponent, Creighton in the championship game. The Blue Jays are 27-5 this season and ranked #24 in the country. Creighton finished the regular season with a 14-4 conference record, and are the #2 seed in the MVC tournament. Creighton has won 6 games in a row after a 3 game losing streak last month. The Blue Jays beat Drake 68-61 in the quarterfinals and crushed Evansville 99-71 in the semifinals.

Illinois St leads the series 40-28 against Creighton, but Creighton is 4-2 in the MVC tournament against Illinois St. Creighton has won 4 straight games against the Redbirds including both games this season. The Blue Jays won 87-78 at Illinois St in January, and 102-74 in Omaha last month. This is the third trip to the championship game for Illinois St in 5 years. The Redbirds lost to Indiana St last year in the championship. Illinois St is going for their 5th ever MVC tournament title, while Creighton is trying to win their 11th title.

Illinois St is coached by Tim Jankovich. The Redbirds have non-conference losses to Fresno St, Illinois, and NC-Wilmington, and a win over Rutgers. In conference Illinois St was swept by Wichita St and Creighton, and swept Bradley and Missouri St. The Redbirds split with every other team in the conference.

Creighton is coached by Greg McDermott. The Blue Jays have losses to St. Joseph’s, Missouri St, Northern Iowa, Evansville, and Wichita St. Creighton has wins over UAB, Iowa, San Diego St, Nebraska, Tulsa, and Northwestern. Creighton swept the other teams in the MVC other than the four they split with.

Illinois St is outscoring opponents 68-64 this season. The Redbirds are shooting 43.4% from the field and 36.1% from 3 point range. ISU makes 75% of their free throws. The Redbirds average 35.2 rebounds a game with a rebounding margin of +2.8. Illinois St averages 12.8 assists, 12 turnovers, 5.1 steals, and 3.3 blocks a game. Redbird opponents are shooting 40.5% from the field and 34.8% from 3 point range. ISU forces 11.3 turnovers a game.

ISU forward Jackie Carmichael averages 13.7 points, 9.6 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks a game to lead the team in all three categories. Tyler Brown averages 13 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 0.9 steals a game to tie for the team lead. He is shooting 42.4% from 3 point range. Nic Moore averages 8.8 points, 2.2 rebounds, 3.7 assists to lead the team, and 0.9 steals a game. He makes 35% of his 3 pointers. Jon Ekey averages 8.7 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 1.3 assists a game. He makes 38.9% from 3 point range. Bryant Allen averages 8.3 points, and 1.3 rebounds a game. He shoots 42.2% from beyond the arc. John Wilkins averages 7.4 points and 4.3 rebounds a game.

Creighton is outscoring opponents 80-69 this season The Blue Jays are shooting 51% from the field, including 42.6% from 3 point range. The Blue Jays are in the top 10 nationally in scoring, FG percentage, and 3 point percentage.  Creighton makes 73.2% of their free throws. The Blue Jays average 36 rebounds a game, with a rebounding margin of +6. Creighton averages 18 assists, 12.4 turnovers, 4.9 steals, and 2.3 blocks a game. Creihgton is third in assists nationally. Blue Jay opponents are shooting 43.9% from the field, including 35.3% from 3 point  range. Creighton forces 10.6 turnovers a game.

Coach’s son Doug McDermott averages 22.9 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 1.1 assists a game. He leads the team in scoring and rebounding, and is #3 nationally in scoring. McDermott makes 49% of his 3 point shots. Antoine Young averages 12.4 points, 2 rebounds, and 4.5 assists a game. Gregory Echenique averages 9.8 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks a game to lead the team. Jahenns Manigat averages 6.7 points, 2.2 rebounds, and 1.6 assists a game. He makes 47% of his 3 pointers. Grant Gibbs averages 6.7 points, 4.2 rebounds, 5.1 assists, and 1 steal a game. He leads the team in assists and steals. Ethan Wragge averages 6.5 points, and 2.8 rebounds. Besides Center Echinique all of the top scorers make at least 32.3% of their 3 point attempts.

Creighton is 15-13 ATS and the total is 14-12-2 this year. Illinois St is 15-13 ATS and the total is 15-13 this year. Creighton is 4-2 ATS and straight-up in the last 6 against Illinois St.

Most experts think Creighton is assured of an NCAA tournament bid whether they win or lose this game. Illinois St needs to win to get in or otherwise they will most likely go to the NIT. An Illinois St win would also take a spot away from one of the bubble teams, as Wichita St is also assured of a tournament bid. I think it will be close but Creighton will win clinch the auto bid from the MVC.

Our college basketball handicappers are red hot as the regular season ends and the conference tournaments get underway. Don’t miss out on any more winners.

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